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Crackdown on unregistered and unlicensed hotels in Phuket

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has recently taken action against illegal hotels in Phuket, following his declaration of war on influential figures in the region, particularly in Patong.

Minister Anutin revealed findings from inspections targeting establishments operating “like hotels” but without proper licenses and paperwork. 19 hotels were allegedly operating illegally without the necessary permits. There were two of the inspected hotels that were ‘owned’ by foreigners using Thai nominees to open illegal companies.

The recent crackdown identified 19 venues offering hotel-style accommodation without the necessary permits, totalling a combined 800 guest rooms. Anutin credited the Kathu District Office for digging up the information about the ‘faux hotels’, with many operating around Patong’s Malin Plaza, at the southern end of Patong near the turn off for the road to Karon. It’s a popular area for the night market too.

The crackdown is part of Minister Anutin’s crackdown on “influential and powerful individuals”. Officials from various agencies, including the police and administrative offices, were involved in the investigations.

Violating the Hotel Act of 2004 carries penalties of up to one year in jail or fines up to 20,000 baht, with additional daily fines of a similar value “until compliance”.

Minister Anutin highlighted broader repercussions, such as safety concerns for guests and potential economic impacts like tax evasion and monopolistic practices by foreign investors. He was also concerned the properties were unlikely to have the required services or staffing quality of a properly licensed Thai hotel.

Local officials say they will start to sort out these fake hotels through legal channels while making sure they fully comply with relevant safety regulations.

“The target is fair competition and guest safety in the hospitality sector.”

But during the visit, and speaking to many owners of small hotels in Patong, the officials heard about the many hurdles faced by small hotel operators.

There had been changes in the regulations, general confusion and many who had applied for licensing were still waiting for their paperwork to be completed by local authorities.

Local authorities say there are now efforts to streamline registration processes with recent appeals made to the Thai PM for support in resolving environmental and zoning issues affecting the island’s small hotels.

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